A r c h i v e d I n f o r m a t i o n
Helping Your Students With Homework: A Guide for Teachers - February 1998
Tips for Getting Homework Done
4. Make assignments focused and clear
Focused assignments are easier for students to understand and complete. Homework that tries to introduce or reinforce too many ideas is less likely to contribute to learning. This is particularly true for students whose abstract thinking hasn't developed to the point where they can integrate many concepts successfully.
- Most of Ken Boucher's homework assignments are distributed on half a sheet of paper. A full sheet can be ominous, the elementary school music teacher from Maryland believes. Each assignment concentrates on one concept or issue--melodic components, for instance--and asks students to provide 4 or 5 examples. Mr. Boucher can easily tell from students' responses whether they have understood what he is trying to teach. If not, he can go back over the material.
- Providing a focus and the necessary background information is critical to having class discussions of assigned readings succeed, according to Ms. Faucette. Lacking a focus, she says, children often try to attack a reading all at once, "which ends up in frustration and chaos." The following assignment, however, provides the necessary focus: "Read Chapter 2 of The Pearl by John Steinbeck, concentrating on the behavior of Kino. Pick one important decisive action he took and explain what he would have to believe to act the way he did. Now advise Kino. Offer him alternative modes of behaviors. What would he have to believe to respond in the alternative manner you chose for him?"
[3. Make sure students understand]
[5. Create assignments that challenge students]